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Facebook, Twitter face congressional hearings on political bias, fake news

Facebook, Twitter face congressional hearings on political bias, fake news

Over the previous year, Facebook and Twitter have each launched public campaigns (and some not so public) to fight back against "inauthentic" accounts believed to be linked not only to Russian Federation, but to other malicious actors like Iran.

Facebook FB.O fell 1.6 percent and Twitter TWTR.N 5.2 percent.

"Any suggestion that Jack made or overruled any of these decisions is completely and totally false", Twitter's chief legal officer, Vijaya Gadde, said in a statement.

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey will appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee Wednesday morning to discuss actions their companies have taken to thwart foreign influence campaigns targeting the 2018 midterm elections.

"We were too slow to spot this and too slow to act", Sandberg said during the Senate hearing, addressing Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 USA presidential election.

"Multiple members of Congress and the chairwoman of the Republican Party have seen their Twitter presences temporarily minimized in recent months, due to what you have claimed was a mistake in the algorithm", he said.

Referring to such companies, which include Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc, Trump told the conservative news outlet in an interview conducted on Tuesday that "I think they already have" interfered in the November 6 election.

Vice Chairman Mark Warner (D-V.A.) echoed that sentiment.

Dorsey will tell the House Energy and Commerce Committee that Twitter "does not use political ideology to make any decisions", according to written testimony made public on Tuesday.




In August, Twitter came under fire from its users and even from some employees for not joining numerous top social media platforms in banning Alex Jones.

"We've removed hundreds of pages and accounts involved in coordinated inauthentic behavior - meaning they misled others about who they were and what they were doing", Sandberg told the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Trump faulted Twitter on July 26, without citing any evidence, for limiting the visibility of prominent Republicans through a practice known as shadow banning.

Wednesday's hearing was a follow-up to one held in November that focused on foreign government manipulation of social media platforms to influence US politics. The company's Chief Legal Officer Kent Walker sent a written statement, promising to maintain efforts to thwart foreign interference in United States elections.

Instead, an empty chair, complete with a glass of water, joined Sandberg and Dorsey on the dais.

Google, which was also invited to the hearing, did not send a representative.

The company had said it would designate its senior vice president of global affair, Kent Walker, to attend the hearing (he's appeared previously before the panel).

In a statement to HuffPost, Google said it's been diligent in briefing lawmakers on the political interference issue in the past.

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